2014 is coming to a close, and that means it’s time for us to look back at the year we’ve had in gaming. If we look back at the 2014 video game release calendar, it’s clear that there were definitely some awful games released this year. Now, that’s not to say that there weren’t good games released — of course there were — but it’s safe to say that there were more duds than winners.
Of course, there are some games that were polarizing, too, that some loved while others hated (like Alien Isolation). Many games this year were underappreciated — rated poorly by the big gaming sites or attacked by many fans but were actually good games worth playing. Or, were released, met with praise, and then forgotten about. Here are the top 5 best underappreciated video games of 2014 that deserved more credit than they received:
1. OlliOlli (PS4 version)
Roll7 nailed OlliOlli for the PS Vita, but the problem was that nobody owns a Vita. So, Roll7 brought OlliOlli’s fun retro skateboarding side-scroller to the PS4. But upon its release, many reviewers rated it much lower than its worth. Not that the game received many bad reviews, but it only holds a Metascore of 80/100. Destructoid and Eurogamer were the only outlets to score the game at 9 or above, which is a head-scratcher to me, given OlliOlli’s creativity, skateboarding realism and difficulty. If you’re itching for a new skateboarding game to play, pick up OlliOlli from PSN.
LoadOut is one of those games I found myself playing for hours at a time, and then I’d look at my Steam friend’s list and say, “why the hell isn’t anyone playing this?” LoadOut is over-the-top ridiculous, and sports an impressive gun-creation system that contains literally millions of possible combinations. It’s unfortunate that it’s currently PC only, but we’re definitely waiting for the PS4 version, which is coming soon. If you’re looking for dumb, mindless fun, pick up LoadOut on Steam.
3. Bravely Default
Bravely Default is one of those games that was released earlier in the year (in February) and was played through and forgotten. It was met with praise upon its release, with major gaming outlets like IGN saying things like it offers “modern twists on what is otherwise a fairly traditional JRPG.” But here it is, December, and it’s not even being mentioned when discussing game of the year potential. Sure, it’s nominated for best handheld game, but in all fairness, there wasn’t much competition on that front. I’d love to see Bravely Default head to PS4, Xbox One or Wii U, but I don’t see that actually happening. But I’ve played through the game twice this year on my 3DS, so you should definitely pick it up and give it a go if you own a Nintendo 3DS (especially since there is a sequel in the works).
4. The Golf Club
The Golf Club’s reception is a true oddity. Oddly enough, when every Tiger Woods game from EA would release, everyone would ask for more realism. Now that there’s no more Tiger Woods, and The Golf Club released on the PC, Xbox One and PS4 with an unprecedented realistic golf experience, critics cried that it was too realistic and not any fun. Well, critics, I beg to differ. The Golf Club is enjoyably realistic, and doesn’t have a stinky EA stamp on it! The Golf Club is available for digital download.
5. Lords of the Fallen
Lords of the Fallen just simply didn’t take off when it was released like I thought it would. It’s an easy 8.0-8.5 game that only scored 6’s and 7’s among gaming critics. The game deserves more praise than it received for its impressive graphics on the Xbox One and PS4, tough but satisfying gameplay and Harkyn’s story. It’s not quite as tough as Dark Souls II, and looks sort of like Darksiders, but yet somehow carves out its own space in the gaming world. Given the bleak video game release schedule for December and January, it’d definitely be worth it to pick up Lords of the Fallen to get through the cold winter ahead.
WildStar died a quick death. I was in on all of the betas, and played for over two months after the game released, but then the game died. But it didn’t die because it was a flawed game, it died because it didn’t hold onto users whom overreacted to its minor flaws. At its core, WildStar is THE best MMO on the market. It’s action-oriented gameplay, crafting, housing and leveling system is great, but where it ran into trouble was with its endgame that required a great deal of coordination among the game’s community to even attempt.
The game lost a ton of its population due to players being frustrated with its endgame raids and PvP, but if you remove those issues from the equation, you’ve got a great sci-fi oriented MMORPG on your hands. From level 1-50, you’ll be taken through unique quests in unique areas with unique ideas. It’s worth the price of admission, even if you only end up playing it for a month or two like I did. (Oh, and by the way, you can earn that second month free in-game with something called C.R.E.D.D. [look it up if you’re interested]).
7. Madden NFL 15
Yeah, I said it and I’ll say it again: Madden NFL 15 is an underappreciated game. The gaming community has been sick of EA for the past few years (and rightfully so), and the yearly releases of Madden doesn’t help, but this year’s Madden 15 is truly a big step forward in the franchise. Metacritic has it rated in the low 80s, but this is the best Madden yet and is more deserving of being in the low to mid 90s territory. With a major upgrade to the defensive side of things, an impressive visual presentation and a plethora of modes, Madden 15 deserves more praise than it received.
Agree or disagree with my underappreciated games of 2014 list? Have one to add? Sound off in the comments below!